Mirror Image - Michael Scott Page 0,1
“Seven hundred and fifty then. Come along ladies and gentlemen; it’s here to be cleared. Seven hundred and fifty for a fine piece of glass like that. A handsome piece in any house.”
“You’d need a bloody big house for that, mate,” someone quipped in a cockney accent.
The auctioneer smiled. “Five hundred pounds, ladies and gentlemen. Five hundred pounds, or I’ll have to pass.”
Frazer looked up and caught the auctioneer’s eye. He raised his left hand and spread his fingers wide.
The auctioneer frowned, then nodded slightly. “Five hundred pounds is bid. Any advance on five hundred pounds? Come along ladies and gentlemen, this is a real bargain. Any advance on five hundred pounds?”
No one moved.
“Fair warning at five hundred pounds. Five hundred. Going once, going twice…” The auctioneer slammed his gavel on the lectern. “Sold!” He looked in Frazer’s direction and nodded. “Now moving on to Lot 70…”
A young man wearing blue overalls made his way through the crowd and handed Frazer a slip to fill in.
“Can you ship it?”
“We can, of course, sir, shipping is extra.”
“Of course.” Frazer handed across his business card. “To this address.”
The young man turned it over. “Frazer Interiors. In Los Angeles. I remember you, sir. We shipped you those carved Chinese lion heads.”
“You’ve a good memory.”
“I had to wrap them and ship them. I’ve never forgotten them. It’s been a while since we’ve seen you.”
“I know. And you’re my last call of the day.” Frazer glanced back at the mirror. “My lucky day.”
The young man smiled. “You got a real bargain, Mr. Frazer. You’re obviously the right man in the right place at the right time.”
“IT’S QUITE something.” Tony Farren ran his hand appreciatively down the length of the glass. “The frame’s horrific, but we’ll see if we can do something about that.”
Jonathan Frazer crouched down in front of the enormous mirror, pointing to the black speckling that ran around its edges. “Let’s see what we can do about these, too, OK?”
Tony nodded. “That’ll be no problem.”
Jonathan stood up and brushed off his hands. “What do you think?”
The two men were standing in the converted garage-workshop at the back of Frazer’s home in the Hollywood Hills that held the overflow from the shop. Tony Farren tucked his hands into his jean pockets. He had been with the Frazer family since James Frazer, Jonathan’s father, opened an antiques business in Hollywood in the mid-sixties. When Jonathan inherited the business and turned Frazer Antiques & Curios into Frazer Interiors, selling mid-century furniture mixed with carefully selected antique pieces, Tony stayed on. Small, stout, and completely bald, his knowledge of antiques was phenomenal. When Jonathan was a boy, he spent most of his summers in the crowded, musty converted garage at his parents’ home in Los Feliz watching, fascinated, as Tony worked and talked. Jonathan always claimed that everything he knew about antiques he learned from Tony Farren.
“It’s a fine piece,” Tony said eventually. “Very fine.”
“Can you put a value on it for me?” Jonathan smiled. Very fine was high praise indeed.
Farren ran his hands over the glass, and then used a small flashlight to throw a light onto the mirror. He repeated the procedure with the wooden frame, and then moved behind the tall mirror to examine the back. He ducked out from behind it, peering over his horn-rimmed glasses. “It’s an interesting piece, no mistake about that. The glass is Venetian, possibly late fourteenth, early fifteenth century, although it’s very difficult to say. Could be even earlier for all I know. The frame looks early sixteenth century, it’s in the style certainly, although the wood looks older … and it’s a peculiar wood, too, birch or alder.” He stepped back, sinking his hands into his pockets, his head tilted to one side. “On reflection…”
Jonathan groaned at the pun.
Tony grinned. “Sorry about that. It would seem a shame to remove the glass from the frame, unless we could put together a more ornate—but finding a frame of this size would be virtually impossible, it would have to be custom made. Let’s leave it as is.”
“The price, Tony,” Jonathan gently reminded him.
“I’d say about twenty thousand dollars … give or take a few.”
Farren grinned at Jonathan’s surprise. “Why, what were you going to charge for it?”
“About seven grand, seventy-eight hundred maybe…”
“For twenty-eight square feet of what is possibly Venetian glass with what looks like an Elizabethan frame on it! That’d be like giving it away.”
“Could be a fake,” Jonathan suggested.
Tony Farren snorted rudely. He tapped the glass with